Roland JX-3P

Roland JX-3P Image

The JX-3P is something of a hidden treasure – there is more to it than meets the eye. It came out about the same time as the venerable JUNO series, but represents a shift away from the traditional analog synthesizer interface and towards a less hands-on format. The JX-3P was mostly aimed towards players looking for those great stable Roland sounds of the time, but with immediate Preset-based access to them, and only the most basic and newbie-friendly of on-board controls to adjust them. (Note the space reserved on-board for holding sheet music in place.)

That is not to say this is a dumbed down synth, but rather, the digital technologies being explored by Roland at the time allowed for greater programability while simultaneously reducing the need for dedicated hands-on controllers per parameter - a path most synth manufacturers walked down during the eighties. This means that sliders and knobs were being phased out in favor of push-buttons, fewer sliders and a powerful programming interface tucked away “under the hood”.

The JX-3P shares the same great analog filters and VCAs as the JUNO and even the JUPITER series. Just like the JUNO, it’s a six voice polyphonic feeding digitally controlled oscillators (DCOs) through analog filters, envelopes and amps. However, the JX-3P has two oscillators per voice instead of the single osc. found in the JUNO synths, and while that does allow for greater flexibility, the onboard programming interface is a lot less fun and hands-on than that of a JUNO, no doubt contributing to the popularity the JUNO series enjoys over the JX-3P. You will need the optional PG-200 programmer if you want a real hands-on experience with the JX-3P.

Roland JX-3P Image

Surprisingly, the JX-3P is MIDI equipped, in fact it was Roland's first MIDI synth. However, its MIDI was limited to basic note on/off information only. Synths like the JUNO 106 had far better MIDI implementation. But the JX-3P also featured an on-board 128-step sequencer and came in a (slightly modified) rack-mount version called the MKS-30.

Roland JX-3P Image

Although the JX-3P may not be as popular as a JUNO, it makes a great vintage synth capable of creating some lush, classic analog sounds. And without the cult status of other synths similar to it, they can also be found at bargain prices, making them a definite synth to consider when looking for those classic early eighties Roland sounds. And aftermarket upgrades (like the KIWI-3P) can make it just as good, if not better, than any other polyphonic analog synths out there! It has been used by The Future Sound of London, Astral Projection, Vince Clarke, Orbital, Luke Vibert, Stevie Nicks, and Thomas Dolby.

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213 Visitor comments
chachi longbow
February 22, 2012 @ 11:30 am
the programmer is definitely not a must.. i just sold mine for $350 on ebay and programming is still a breeze without it. after enough time programming with the slider you'll start to memorize parameter numbers, and you won't have to refer to the diagram very often. i thought the chorus on mine was a little noisy, but i realized it just gets distorted when the VCA level is cranked all the way.. turn it down and it's easy to get lush, noise-free chorus sounds. if you're after jupiter'esque sounds at a fraction of the cost, this is the synth for you.
February 19, 2012 @ 11:57 am
I just got this synth with the PG 200 programmer, and it's tons of fun! I found out that mine is one of the boards that have a hidden patch bank, so I can save to 48 user patches instead of 32!

Try this:

-Hit Tape Memory.
-Hit key 5 and hold it.
-While still holding key 5, hit Tape Memory again.
(See if you get an extra bank of 16 init sounds and if you're able to save over them.)
-To reset to normal operation, hit Tape Memory twice.

There are some other tricks at the end of this article:
February 13, 2012 @ 3:57 pm
Smokin synth. Though it would be nice to have seperate ADSRs for both oscillators!
January 18, 2012 @ 7:43 am
The JX3P works well within the audio spectrum to replace a electric guitar in a mix, that is not surprising as I think this keyboard was originally developed by Roland's guitar department .The sequencer/arpeggiator is terrific,it looks and feels like the one on the TR.808/606/303 with it's funky 'swing'.
No need for the programmer or the new upgrade i.m.o. as both of them cost more than the keyboard itself and are basically bells and whistles.
It is a good investment for the future,to learn analog programming on,or even make music with!
January 16, 2012 @ 4:54 am
Just got this. It has a sound that'll never get old (though its presets did). I also have a JX8P and an Alpha Juno, and they both have a nice filter. They are both great and charismatic, but let's not kid around: JX3P is the real deal. Its filter is just incredibly sexy, beyond comparison. Plus, the envelopes are much snappier than both others, so sequencing > sex. Trust me, when you sequence a bass pattern on its simple internal sequencer, and start playing with cutoff and resonance, you won't believe how little you've paid for it. If you can't afford or find great classics, get this. Now.
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 DCO's per voice
  • Memory - 32 preset, 32 user
  • Filter - Resonant Low pass and High pass filters
  • Effects - Chorus
  • Arpeg/Seq - 128-step Sequencer
  • Keyboard - 61 keys
  • Control - MIDI (no velocity except with a special ROM upgrade)
  • Date Produced - 1983

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